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Words: John Pond.

These are catchwords favoured by most real-estate agents but the same mantra holds true for the dedicated cruiser, who seeks the best position for his or her cabins when booking a cruise. Midships (for landlubbers, that means the middle of the ship) is considered the most desirable position because, in rough weather, these cabins experience the least movement. I also love this location because it is easy to get from there to any other part of the ship, especially the dining areas. For these reasons, midships cabins usually sell at a premium and are the first to go.

On a recent cruise aboard one of the giant Princess Cruises ships, I was given the first cabin forward. To be honest, I was not too happy about it. In rough weather, this could possibly be the worst cabin location. Fortunately, the ship behaved very well, and the stabilisers did their job. My partner Sandra actually loves rough weather, enjoying a ship that behaves like a ship, not a hotel on water.

I would like to relate the story of one of our readers. Peter phoned me asking for advice about a cruise he had bought on the internet. He had booked a small suite for himself and his wife, and paid in full. A couple of days later, he received his cabin number and, on looking up the ship’s plan to check the location, was delighted with the cabin’s position. Peter went ahead and booked airfares to Singapore and five nights’ accommodation at the mammoth new casino-hotel complex.

Some days later, Peter was informed by the internet booking agency that it had not notified the shipping line in time and, accordingly, had lost the cabin previously allocated. He was advised that there were no small suites available. To put it mildly, Peter was devastated. He could not cancel the cruise because he had prepaid his airfare, which was not refundable.

After much negotiation, the internet agent’s general manager interceded, offering an upgrade to a large suite at the rear of the ship at no extra cost.  Once again, Peter was a delighted passenger. As they say on television, though, “Wait, there’s more!”. The agent phoned a few days later to say they had just secured him a small suite, as originally ordered, albeit in a less desirable position near the elevators and stairwell. Peter was now worried that there would be a lot of noise going past his cabin.

Cabins are well soundproofed so I do not believe Peter will have any noise problems, but the whole experience took the gloss off what should have been a particularly happy period of preparation and anticipation.

The moral of this story is to book as early as possible, confirm your cabin number and, ideally, have all the arrangements made by an accredited cruise agent. I suggest you instruct your agent that if you cannot be allocated the type of cabin you desire, the booking should not be made. I must add that on most new ships, there are no really ‘bad’ cabins – just a decision to make on whether you prefer to be inside or outside, with a porthole or a balcony, depending on your budget.

As many cruise lines are coming up with different cabin options, decision-making can be harder than ever. For example, Disney’s two soon-to-be-launched ships offer inside cabins, each with a large ‘porthole’ that is actually a plasma-type screen transmitting video from a camera on the side of the ship. The effect is of having an ocean-view cabin. Perhaps next they could build in a fan to provide sea breezes.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ two newest ships offer ocean or park views, meaning that virtually all their cabins have balconies. Norwegian Cruise Line is offering specially-designed small cabins for the young and old singles market.

We are wondering what might be next. Perhaps it will be faux cruise ships, built at the mall, on which you will never have to worry about passports or getting seasick.